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Native vs Web

OS Compatibility and the Web

Mark Hughes:

This is why the web beats native applications. You can indeed make a better interface in native code; you can’t maintain it, and you can’t port it. The native dev is constantly chasing a new API that breaks everything past, and fighting with garbage tools like Xcode. The web dev just needs ed or another text editor, and only has to target the browser, which is a moving target but has backfills and a compatibility policy, and native browsers generally work on the last two major OS releases.

As someone who had been both a software developer and a web designer at various points in my career, I can say from experience that the websites I designed might not work as fully today, but at least they can be opened and viewed. Native apps will always be able to do more, but the OS foundation they sit on will always be at risk of breakage or even deprecation.

People deride web apps packaged using Electron or similar, and some of that derision is deserved, particularly memory consumption. But, increasingly, such cross-platform apps make a lot more sense, both from a development and end-user perspective.

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